A few weeks ago, Cheri and I had a scare with the baby.chromosomes2

Of course, you probably know that pregnancy is already kind of scary. And everyone worries about their child’s health. That’s nothing new.

So when Cheri had a routine appointment with the genetic counselor, we were not overly concerned.

It was only when the counselor started digging deep into the family history that we got worried. Years ago, our family tested positive as carriers of a Fragile X pre-mutation. Fragile X is the leading cause of inherited mental retardation. No one in the family is symptomatic, but the family carries the gene. We were told at the time that it posed little to no threat.

The counselor disagreed.

She basically told my wife that with the level of intervention we received to get pregnant, we could have (read: should have) “weeded out” any abnormal embryos.

It’s a good thing I was not in the room, because if I had been, that counselor probably would have left with a red hand-shaped mark on her face.

I thought “This is your ‘counsel?’ To tell us what we obviously chose not to do?”

The next couple of weeks were pretty torturous as we contemplated what our future might hold. And we came face to face with a few dark realities of the business of baby-making today.

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Some people have a resume so long, it puts the rest of us to shame.

Henry David Thoreau was a lot of things I am not. An author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, surveyor, historian and probably a whole lot of other things. He did it all in just forty-four years, and seemed to do everything, from writing philosophy to trekking through Maine, with great purpose. He said it himself, he desired to live deliberately and today, he is still considered to be a role model for gentlemen of rugged and simple aspirations.

Thoreau’s life was not an accident. He was a man who knew how to get around and not waste time. I admire that a man who lived a relatively short life could take the time to keep a two million word journal over twenty-four years, yet find the time to accomplish all of the other matters which interested him. Here I am, at thirty-one, thinking I don’t have time to live deliberately!

It doesn’t seem to me that a man who accomplishes so much in a mere four decades spends much of his time wishing that he had more time. I don’t see great men wishing for some bygone era, or living in the “glory days” of their youth, or pining for the “good old days” (which never seemed as good when they were new.) What fascinates me about men like Thoreau is their constant and continual thirst for new, rather than the old. Here was a man who never got tired of seeing new things, gaining new knowledge, having new insights, experiencing new joys. He seemed to have little need for the past, other than to learn from it. For him, the future was always more interesting than what has already been.

For a man as reflective as Thoreau, it seems funny that he would tell people to stop living in the past, stop wishing for our “old days” back, stop trying to make things they way they used to be.

thoreau

There are a lot of people who are obsessed with what used to be (or how they imagine it used to be). And I suppose we can tag along with them and dream.

But the thing about wishing for the past is that those wishes never come true.

Ah, a new season. Autumn has to be my favorite (except for all of the pollen.) But then again, I get excited for every new season. It’s weird, I know what’s going to happen in the next season. I’ve seen it all before. But I’m always ready for it to happen again.

This week, there were some really good, deep, challenging things that came onto my radar, but I’m going to concentrate on one specific book that landed on my desk last week.

On My Bookshelf

I got a free copy of Peter Enns’ book The Bible Tells Me SoNow, here’s the thing, when it comes to any book on biblical interpretation, I ForTheBibleTellsMeSocan’t just give it a ringing, blind endorsement. That is irresponsible. So what can I say about it?

I fundamentally agree with Enns’ central argument, which happens to be the subtitle, “Why defending scripture has made us unable to read it.” I think most of us are borderline illiterate when it comes to making sense of our Bibles. Some of us take the bare-bones approach of the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it. Such an approach does not make a more faithful Christian. It makes a bulldozer Christian who plows through all manner of biblical literature with no sensitivity to the original author or audience. Other people get stuck in the weeds of “original Greek” meanings and trying to discern where one author started a sentence and another author ended it. I do not think that is productive either.

I have to admit, going to seminary was a trial for my faith, because I realized for the first time just how complex the history of the Bible is. I believe as Enns says that the Bible is exactly the way God wants it to be. And I have said before that I do not believe every Old Testament story has to be literally true for the Bible to be inerrant. (A word whose meaning we’ve all but lost.) The Bible is a complex, beautiful, poetic book that was somehow inspired by God. But that doesn’t mean it’s the same as our American History textbooks from high school.

That being said, I would be remiss to give a blanket endorsement to Enns approach, as I would be to anyone’s approach. I don’t know if I can go all the way to the logical conclusions of Enns’ arguments, in which whole chunks of the Bible were fabricated to address contemporary issues in Israel. I don’t need the Bible to be that way to be settled with it in my mind. And maybe you don’t either. Who says Enns has finally unlocked the “Bible code,” perfectly and inerrantly? No one. So read with discernment. Take with a grain of salt. I can’t imagine Peter Enns telling anyone to do otherwise. Don’t lap up these words, eagerly and unquestioningly, the way Enns’ describes his early experiences in seminary. If the Bible is as important as we say it is, then we should be careful with the authors who tell us how to interpret it.

The Bible Tells Me So may change the way you read your Bible. Regardless, I do think that reading an author who challenges us to “the the Bible be what it is, even when it doesn’t behave the way we want” is always a fruitful exercise.

What makes a role model?

Being great at what you do is awesome, even if this is your job. But does this job make you an automatic "role model?"

Being great at what you do is awesome, even if this is your job. But does this job make you an automatic “role model?”

There has been a lot of discussion lately about role models, especially when we talk about the disaster that is the NFL today. We see a man who makes millions of dollars beating a woman. We see another man who whips a child. We see these things and we shake our heads and say things like:

“Doesn’t he know he’s a role model?”

“People look up to him.”

But you know what? I look at millionaires who don’t know how to not beat women and children and ask why are these me “role models?” Who made them role models? Are these really the best role models we can come up with? There is nothing that inherently prevents a ball player from being a role model (I don’t even buy the argument that “football is a violent game, therefore players can’t be role models”). But are players role models just because they put on a jersey?

If any good can come out of these situations, I think it is that maybe, just maybe we as a sports obsessed society will stop and think and maybe even reevaluate who we are elevating to the level of role model in the first place.

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I sometimes think about great people, the kinds of people who change the world, the kinds of people who make history.

I think about the great people I admire, and I wonder how do they spend their days.

I wonder how the great people of the world start their mornings. Are they early risers or do they like to sleep in? How do they take their coffee? Do they eat cereal like me? Are they morning or evening shower-ers? (Okay, I don’t think I have ever wondered that.)

I sometimes wonder what it is like to be a great person who people admire. What does a day in the life look like for someone who makes a difference in the world? Do they know when they wake up in the morning that they are going to do something world-changing that day at eleven o’clock and then have a ham sandwich for lunch?

My guess is they don’t. They say that celebrities are just normal people. I have to assume the same is true for the great men and women of history.

Doing great things is just their normal. They get up, drink their coffee, eat their cereal, and do something. And most days, what they do is probably small. 

But I think the difference is that great people do small things in great ways. I think they see opportunities that you and I often miss.

I don’t think the secret to being a great person who is admired and respected and makes a difference is doing one great thing. I think the secret to being a great person is actually doing a whole bunch of very small things very greatly. 

You and I are going to have a whole bunch of opportunities today. Most of them will be quite small opportunities. We will have a choice about how we spend five minutes. We will have a choice about the conversation we have at lunch. We will have the choice to speak to someone or ignore them. We will have a choice about how to resolve a conflict. We will have a choice about dinner tonight.

I think when you add up all of those small, unimportant choices, we find the very difference between an average life and a great life. It’s just that most of us spend our lives wishing for a great big opportunity, while ignoring the great number of small opportunities we have every day.

small things

There might never be any great opportunities. Better to just take the small ones and make them great.

Howdy friends! I hope it’s been a great week for you as it has been for me. The anticipation around our house for the arrival of The Little One continues to grow, as does my wife.

There was plenty of good stuff to go around this week. These were the highlights for me.

On My Bookshelfplaydates

You can’t read Playdates with God by Laura Boggess yet…but I can. And I did. Actually, my name is on the first page, as I offered an endorsement of the book. Laura’s aim is to draw us back to the relationship with God we used to have, (or never had) when we were children. Strip away all of the layers that we add as adults. You should plan on reading it when it hits stores in early October. In fact, you can pre-order it on Amazon right now.

In My Blog Reader

As bloggers, we don’t always get too many perspectives from the older, less bloggy generation. I really enjoyed this personal story of confession and redemption from Lyle Dorsett.

My pal, Darrell Vesterfelt discusses how to act in spite of our fears, rather than out of our fears.

Everyone’s favorite blogging funeral director shares twelve of the worst things that have ever been said at a funeral. Holy crap.

Zack Hunt shares the surprising reaction an Oklahoma church demonstrated to the local Satanists. How many of us can honestly say we would treat Satanists the way this church is treating their neighbors?

Finally, Sarah Bessey lets us into her home by introducing us to one of her oft-repeated parenting phrases, Guard Your GatesIt’s something we do not often discuss in the age of limitless and unfettered Christian freedom, but we do still have to guard our spiritual gates. We just cannot go through this life, much less remain spiritually whole, if we allow (force?) ourselves to absorb everything there is to see and hear in the world. Humbling and poignant.

That’s it for me this week. What inspired, challenged, entertained, or fueled you this week?